2015 seems to be off to a promising start for the world of foodservice. A recent Forbes article has cited several positive indicators, from (cautious) consumer optimism to growth opportunities for even the largest chains. All told, restaurant sales are forecasted to grow by as much as 4% this year.
Essentially, it’s expected that chains will bank on improved consumer optimism during what is still a slow economic recovery by adding new locations nationwide. If consumers are now more willing to give up their hard-earned dollars to eat out more frequently, the big brands will certainly be there to greet them. This will be especially true in the highly competitive fast-casual segment.
So what does this forecast mean for those who serve the foodservice industry (equipment manufacturers, suppliers, etc.)? Many will likely benefit. New restaurant locations obviously require new construction, kitchen equipment, furniture and a long list of food and operational supplies. And this is all good news for those who sell into this industry. But not everyone can win — the forecasted growth will only heighten competition in 2015 as rival manufacturers and suppliers attempt to differentiate themselves in the minds of decision-makers at large chains. The manufacturers and suppliers who will take advantage of the forecasted growth will be those that can demonstrate a commitment to the issues these chains value most.
To anticipate what these issues may be in 2015, foodservice manufacturers and suppliers should keep in mind that the expansion of the chains will likely mirror the cautious optimism of their consumers. While the chains may be willing to expand and add more locations, they will do so very carefully and with an increased focus on the products and solutions that deliver operational efficiency, reduce water or energy consumption and innovate to keep up with expanding menus. I believe that manufacturers and suppliers who can deliver on these fronts will share in the profits of another strong year for the restaurant industry in 2015.